Archive for February, 2016

Miles of Smiles

Good Smiles (2)What is the power of a smile? In Redlawada School, we were told that it means an environment where students feel free and live happily. To see children smile as they go about their school activities is an achievement, given how the average child feels school life to be a stressor.

With an environment thriving on smiles, their education and all-round development improve and grow. Facilities that contribute to a healthy learning atmosphere, activities that engender play and learning is what is creating healthy and happy students. Smiles 3

The body, mind and spirit is receptive to learning and creativity flows when students feel free. That is the power of a smile for us – students happy with themselves and dare we say – with us too?

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Career Inspirations

IMG-20160106-WA0014The RDF VAPV Junior College organised a Inspirational Talk and Career Guidance session on a career in the Police. The Guest Lecturer on the occasion was the Parvathagiri Sub Inspector, Mr. Burglula Venkat Rao. He extolled the values of a career in the Police as being one in service to society. He patiently explained the practical aspects of life in the Police Service – the daily challenges and satisfaction derived from such work.

Students were inspired by his talk and many felt they were ready for a career in the Police. Since entry is competitive, he also provided details on how to prepare for the entry test and what to expect. The students found a good mentor in Mr. Venkat Rao and we hope that they will follow their dreams and achieve their desired goals.

IMG-20160106-WA0008The college was also thrilled to announce that three alumni achieved their dream job of joining the Police force – Rakesh and Ravi from the 2010 batch and Swamy from the 2011 batch. We are all very proud of them! 

Partners in Progress

RDF’s mission of delivering high quality education to rural children is on the right path due to the dedication, commitment and passion of  Silver Oaks School in Hyderabad.  A relationship going back nearly a decade, Silver Oaks has been responsible for creating contextualized educational materials for us as well as delivering ongoing teacher training. In addition to this wonderful work, they also organize an annual fundraiser with the students, parents and teachers of the school which contributes a significant amount of money towards our educational goals. The relationship continues to be augmented by cultural and educational visits by Silver Oaks students, as well as by their teachers for reviews and ongoing training. We are indebted to the Silver Oaks team for their commitment and dedication to helping us deliver high quality education to rural children.

Matendla School was visited by a former student of Silver Oaks last month – Aditya Mankal. He spent the day interacting with students and teachers as well as observing the various activities undertaken in the school.  He wrote a very expressive and generous report which we have reproduced here. MS Blog Aditya 1

In a country where education is considered holy, a teacher is termed as a God, it is known to all that basic education is still a distant dream for the many young. With the concern and services rendered to the rural poor children by RDF schools across the country, pursuing education no longer remains confined to dreams. Welcome to the RDF school at Matendla! A place where children greeting us with folded hands show the cultural immersion they are experiencing and discipline imbibed. Dedication is one very apt word to describe the students and the teaching team of this place. It would never be an exaggeration to attribute these young students as the tomorrow’s pride of India.

MS Blog Aditya 2A person visiting the school would not be able to leave the place without appreciating the attitude the students have towards every little thing in their day. The teaching team with the guidance of Mr Vishnu, the principal of RDF Matendla strive for augmenting these students with every skill they need. The day here starts with a prayer to the almighty, an energising set of stage activities, followed by the National anthem and a disciplined walk back to the class rooms sets off the 1st hour of teaching. Being visited every section in the school, I can vouch for the interest every person has towards their role, from every senior teacher to the youngest tot in the pre primary! Hats off to their commitment and dedication.

A mid day meal break shows something mesmerising to watch and learn from! The hall remains silent, students start with a prayer, and none of them wastes any food. Who better knows the value of a food grain than those who hail from the families who raise it! Something for us urbanites to ponder over…

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It’s an irony within itself that those who deserve every learning facility, the Internet, and the best of schools do not have it, and we who have it often tend to overlook what we are lucky to have. The journey back home had me wondering as to who was under privileged. Agreed the Kuber resides with we people in the urban, but these students easily overweigh all what we have and do. I would say that these students are ‘better privileged’. Something which even earning a six digit salary cannot match up to… Thank you does not begin to describe how grateful I am for my stay at Matendla. It’s was pleasure to be with such talented, bright and sincere children, who are going to make it. Kudos to the efforts being put in by the RDF team…..they are also the nation builders!”

We thank Aditya, who is also a nation builder, in our opinion, for it is the understanding, compassion and commitment of the current urban generation – young people like Aditya – that will take rural education to the next level and build the nation!

 

A Historical Tour

MS 1Ask any student how they feel about their History lessons and you get sighs, shaking of heads, shrugging of shoulders and responses that typically echo boredom, disinterest and a sense of inevitability. Why do stories of evolution, birth, deaths, wars, social life, culture, lifestyles, festivals, music become reduced to boring lessons and factoids? How can we help students become intrigued with the past, a past we still very much carry within us and see around us? Taking them out of the class to cities and towns of historical significance is a sure way to pique interest. Seeing and feeling the aura of ancient monuments fires the imagination which can create more interest in the texts.

With this very idea, the staff of Matendla School organised a tour for high school students. Bhadrachalam, Medaram, Ramapppa and Warangal were the cities on the itinerary. From travelling to the small tribal village of Medaram, home to the legendary heroic tales of Samakka to Warangal, the seat of the Kakatiya dynasty and also an ancient Prehistoric site, the students were able to see a part of the history of their region and feel its splendour and stories. The students experienced a sense of wonder wherever they went and felt really happy with the tour. To be able to make connections between their tour and their textbooks, the teachers also felt satisfied that they had succeeded in making not just the tour interesting, but plant a seed to make the subject interesting too!

Ready for Reading!

GBR 2The Reading Program is witnessing an evolution in the Mandal Parishad Primary School, Bahadurapally. While every child is enchanted by a story well told and becomes gripped in its spell, learning to read on their own in a ‘foreign’ language is a challenge. Learning to read, understanding the stories and their characters requires time – something that can be difficult to do due to constraints of the curriculum. However, teachers and school managements are realising the value of dedicated reading time. With this intention, the school created a library period for each primary class, including encouraging students to read in their leisure time too.

With books in their eager hands and an ever increasing group of enthusiastic teachers and volunteers, the children have GBR (1)progressed from being unable to find letters and reading single words, to reading full sentences and making serious attempts to understand the stories they read. Several activities are planned to enable them to improve reading, writing and speaking skills. To us, it is enchanting to see their sincerity, the willingness to take on a challenge in a language they are not familiar with, sharing stories with each other and of course, reaching eagerly for more books!

 

Spiritual Mission of Education

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“The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion— is it worth of the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own legs.” ~ Swami Vivekananda

Swami 3With this crucial message and the enduring mission of the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math – life building, man making, character making and nation building education and training – two of the senior most Swamijis of Ramakrishna Math visited Kalleda School. At RDF, we have also believed that one leg of ‘standing on one’s own legs’ is the spiritual development of children and adults alike.

Swami Jyotirmayananda ji, the Head of Ramarkrishna Math, Hyderabad and Swami Jnanananda ji were invited to address the staff and students at the school on moral and spiritual values, at the behest of the founding members of RDF. Swami 2With the rapid advancements in urbanization and technology, many feel that the solid ground of human ethics and cooperation, based on spiritual and noble ideals of living and working in harmony, have been gradually eroding. With the rising aspirations of students and resultant stresses of modern living, the valuable message and advice of the Swamijis on the importance of spiritual living came at the right time.